Cultivating Work With True Heart & Meaning (AKA: How To Avoid Unhealthy Workism)

The article, “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable,” made me think hard about work. After pondering it for a couple of weeks here are some thoughts:

I deeply believe that in order to find happiness & meaning in work one needs to clearly define a personal mission & make sure one’s weekly work aligns with that mission. Otherwise work is just a paycheck and there are millions of ways to make money. 

If your inner world is undefined, your outer world will be undefined & meaningless. 
And humans by default almost always strive for “more”—money, work, things, tv, social media, etc. even when it's detrimental to health & balance in one's life and even when it's meaningless. 

Again, an undefined personal life purpose leads to a life of drift & personal detriment.

I also firmly believe that balance is achieved by opposing muscles of different life areas pulling against one another. This is how you balance in a challenging yoga pose, this is how you balance a challenging life. Therefore strong work muscles must be counterbalanced by strong rejuvenation muscles.

The awesome thing about many workplaces these days, at least the ones Oh My Green has the pleasure to serve, is that they have awesome world-changing missions AND high fidelity rejuvenation built into their daily/weekly culture. This includes healthy/delicious snacks & catering, meditation, yoga & even life/career coaching so that each individual is empowered to live healthfully and empowered to define/live their purpose & values.

Furthermore, all of our customers realize that their people are their most valuable asset and by not only providing for them, but actually empowering them with their personal development they are paving the way to a place where work can be fun, fulfilling & balanced with the rest of the equally important aspects of their life including family, hobbies, physical fitness, traveling, learning, spiritual growth and all the other awesome aspects of the good life.

When I step back and look at the possibilities provided to the people at the companies we work with every week I am amazed at just how much personal care & personal development is provided. Nonetheless, we all must take it upon ourself to actually utilize these resources & build our own version of an empowered life.

So, what if you are suffering from “Workism”? What can you do? Here are 4 ways you can alchemize your work/life:

  • Discover & develop your personal mission. Then make sure this aligns with your company’s mission or find a new company that does align with it. [Here’s a short article with resources for discovering/developing your mission.]

  • Define your personal values and make sure your company respects them (or find one that does). When you consciously know what values create heart & meaning in your life and your work is aligned with them defaulting to unhealthy workism will be a rare occasion.

  • Take a vacation from work. Sign off completely. Put up an email autoresponder. Don’t fucking read a single email or take work calls during your vacation. I’m dead serious. If you are so burnt out from work you can barely think it’s going to be pretty hard to discover or develop your personal mission or reflect on your values. Often times we need to create space and/or inner silence to be able to hear our Spirit or Higher Self’s guidance on our next steps.

  • Get your financial house in order. If you can’t even afford to take a break or risk looking for a new job that actually aligns with your mission & values you’ve become a slave to your job, money has become your master and workism will be your religion. [Here is an article about me facing my own money darkness & here is a progress report on my personal finances from last year.]

  • Take 100% responsibility for your life & your work-life! Even at my own company which has a super powerful mission and lots of empowering life-enhancing benefits, generous PTO, & flexible work arrangements I see plenty of employees getting CRUSHED by workism. I personally tell everyone I can that our mission of “empowering people to live healthy & blissful lives” will NOT be personally served up on a silver platter. Each one of us will have to actively work each day and week to create our personal version of health & bliss. That means setting & holding boundaries around one’s schedule/workload, actively scheduling time off for rejuvenation, and actually taking advantage of all the benefits offered. I believe this holds true for all the tens of thousands of employees we serve at offices across the nation. No company will do all the work of creating a work/life filled with heart, meaning & balance—that is our personal responsibility.

Taking action on any one of these 5 steps will catalyze you towards a life really worth living for! In truth, taking action & taking responsibility really does cure most things. No one can do it for you. Like they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Don’t be that horse.


  • Special thanks to our Oh My Green CEO, Michael Heinrich, for sharing the “Workism” article in our company newsletter that spawned this blog post. You continue to be an incredibly empowering leader, mentor & best friend.

  • Additional deep thanks to Derek Thompson for writing the article and making me think so hard about my own work/life, my company, & the companies we serve.

  • Title photo by my dear friend & uber-talented photographer Noelle Johnson.

If Instagram is more your pace:

Purpose & Power Is Found Within & Exercised Without

More & more I am coming into the habit of looking inside for power.

Power defined as the ability to act and to do.

In the past I often fooled myself by seeking power outside of myself. Thinking it was out there. Somewhere to be found.

That something outside could give me the what & the why...

Somebody, some thing, some organization could unleash what I knew has been lying dormant.

I've come to believe that the world will give us hints of our inner power. It will provide assistance in the discovery.

The outside world will reflect back to us what is inside waiting for us.

For me this has shown up as magical synchronous events that seem to have a common golden thread running throughout.

Moments that light me up & call me forth. Moments that resonate with my True Self.

Timeless times in which I feel at one with myself and with the world.  These precious moments are transcendent.

Yet, if one doesn't reach out and grab the golden tether one may as well have never noticed it in the first place.

That chord of energy will continue to just float around unused.

Ah, but when we do seize upon that alchemical cord it electrifies us! Fills us up!

And when we act upon it we are left with true power. The power to act in this world and be of service to others and oneself at the same time.

Action begets action. Doing begets doing.

Purpose calls forth our limitless supply of energy.

Strength is found within. It is harnessed by sharing it without.

Harnessing the inner strength so that I can vitally share it with the world.

Harnessing the inner strength so that I can vitally share it with the world.

We all have an innate purpose. We all have innate power to be given to this world in service.

As we discover and develop a purpose that is greater than ourselves we are called into a "being" that is truly powerful.

The gift of our journey of life is to discover this purpose and spend our time fulfilling it.

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any medium and will be lost...the world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions...it is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
— Martha Graham in a letter to Agnes De Mille

Alchemical Learnings:

  1. We all have a purpose. It is our life-duty to discover and/or find purpose & deliver upon it.
  2. Purpose can evolve over time & we can have more than one purpose in life.
  3. Purpose can be discovered by identifying & taking note of synchronous moments and events that make us feel authentic & truly alive.
  4. When we find purpose we find strength (energy) & happiness.
  5. Happiness is a byproduct of fulfilling on purpose.
  6. Having a purpose greater than ourselves creates a sustainable life-affirming power in our life and the life of others.

Alchemical Resources:

  1. The Power of Purpose by Richard Leider. Plenty of material and exercises in his books & on his website to help one develop purpose.
  2. Landmark Worldwide's seminar "Living Passionately." This is a personal & professional development organization that offers many awesome experiential learning seminars. It can be intense, but it will empower you to grow & transform.
  3. Go on a Vision Quest. My friend Ben at Tribal Edge organizes these every spring & fall.
  4. Have some other resources that have empowered you to discover purpose? Please share in the comments!

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. Write down your purpose even if you don't have one fully formulated. Just take a stab at it even if you have no idea. Something is better than nothing. And remember, it can and will likely evolve over time.
  2. Start a "Synchronicity Log". This is simply a record of all the synchronous events that magically appear in your life. Just a brief description and date. Record daily and review weekly. Patterns will begin to emerge. These patterns will empower you to discover purpose. I'm all about making things easy so I just record these in my iPhone note app.
  3. Join up with some sort of organization or individual(s) that have a strong mission that even slightly piques your purpose--business, religious, community, hobby-groups, & inspiring friends all count. Then get active in the group or with the person(s) -- like really participate and notice your purpose come alive. This happened to me with my company Ohmygreen, Landmark, my fiance, & my creative partner at Wild Olympic Art Collective. Through deep interaction with these four powerful forces in my life I was able to refine my purpose into its current working-form: "To empower people & organizations to transform & self-actualize." This purpose is the driving force behind my writing & Alchemize Life.
  4. Still lost on your purpose? Go on Vision Quest or take a seminar at Landmark (links above).

Purpose is what we get up for in the morning.  When our purpose is authentic and strong we wake up jazzed about life. We wake up with excitement and vigor for life.

When our purpose is unclear or not the right fit we wake up feeling like we didn't sleep. We're in a fog and we proceed to slog through our day. To be frank, life sucks when we don't have clear purpose. If you find yourself in this place then it is time for you to discover or find a purpose.

No one can give you purpose unless you decide to take it on. But be careful because if an outside purpose doesn't resonate with your true inner purpose (the reason you came into this world) chaos will ensue at some point. In my life this manifested as drugs, alcohol and other life-killing habits.

You will know when you have purpose clearly defined because life will flow and you will feel at home in the world. If you are not there yet, don't worry. Just begin the process of discovery and have fun with it!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. Please share this article with anyone looking for purpose! And please sign up for my NEWSLETTER to keep your life alchemizing & on fire! 🔥